Tuesday, August 25, 2015

From New Orleans to the Harlem Renaissance - Archibald John Motley, Jr 1891-1981



Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) My Grandmother 1922

Motley explained, "She was a pygmy from British East Africa, a little bit of a person, very small, she was about 4 feet, 8 or 9 inches. She used to tell me an awful lot about slavery...when she first came to live with us I think she was about 87 or 89 years old. She lived to be 102...We had an upstairs & downstairs, we had 2 bedrooms upstairs, & I had a studio room...there was a little bedroom off the side of the studio where she slept. Of course, during the day she'd be downstairs all day. In those days the hot water was heated by a little gas heater & then you had that tall galvanized tank. The heater was right by the tank &, of course, the heat from the tank & the gas would heat up pretty nice & she always sat with her back against the tank to keep her back warm. She'd sit there all day puffing on her little pipe. Every night at nine o'clock I used to come & get her. I'd say, 'Grandma, it's time for you to go to bed now.' She loved me so much she'd say, 'Is it time for me to go to bed, son? It's kind of early, isn't it?' I'd say, 'No, Grandma, look at the clock.' I'd show her the clock. It was nine o'clock. I'd say, 'Now I'm going to take you all the way upstairs and I'm going to pull your covers down and you've got to go to bed and get your rest.' She'd say, 'Thank you, child, you're certainly one sweet boy.' I'd carry her all the way upstairs to put her to bed."

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Mending Socks The Artist's Grandmother 1924

Archibald John Motley, Jr (1891-1981), who was born in New Orleans studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago during the 1910s, graduating in 1918. Unlike most artists identified with the Harlem Renaissance, Archibald Motley, Jr. never lived in Harlem. He won a fellowship to study in Paris during the late 1920s. In the Great Depression of the 1930s, Motley was employed by the federal Works Progress Administration to depict scenes from African-American history in a series of murals, some of which can be seen at Nichols Middle School in Evanston, Illinois. His images of mixed-race women often reflect the Creole culture of Louisiana with its various racial hierarchies, as his grandparents & parents continued to speak Creole at their new home in Chicago. His portraits represent African American women with dignity, in response to many period stereotypes as the "Mammy" or "Jezebel." He is most famous for his colorful chronicling of the African-American experience during the 1920s & 1930s.

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Jazz

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Octoroon 1922


Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Blues 1929

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Black Belt

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Woman Peeling Apples 1924

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) In the Back Room Card Players1934

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) The Octoroon Girl 1925

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Tongues

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Old Snuff Dipper 1928

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Saturday Night 1935

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Self Portrait 1933

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) The Picnic 1936

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Portrait of a Lady 1948

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Africa 1937

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Self Portrait

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Cocktails 1926

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Lawn Party 1937

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Sunday in the Park 1941

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Lawn Party 193

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Christmas Eve 1945

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Extra Paper 1946

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Gettin' Religion 1948

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Dans la Rue, Paris 1929

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Bronzeville at Night 1949

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Cafe Paris 1929

Archibald John Motley, Jr (American Harlem Renaissance painter, 1891-1981) Casey and Mae in the Street 1948


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